ENDSreport has published details of the decision by the Environment Agency not to renew an abstraction licences for spray irrigation from Catfield Fen in North Norfolk. The two licences, which were originally granted in the 1980s, enabled White House Farm in Marsham to abstract more than 90,000 cubic metres of water between April and October each year. Both were frequently used close to their maximum limit for spray irrigation for arable crops. Nature conservation charity RSPB describes the special area of conservation (SAC) as “one of the UK and Europe’s most important wetland areas that supports over a quarter of the UK’s rarest species”. Catfield and neighbouring Sutton Fen support more than 90% of the UK fen orchid populations and is home to swallowtail butterflies, water voles, Norfolk hawker butterflies, cranes, bitterns, marsh harriers and otters.
There is no doubt that this is an important environmental feature. However what everyone that has time limited licences must now be aware of is that the phrase “issued on the assumption of renewal” is a very weak statement. It is essential that licence holders understand the pressure around them that put renewal at risk. This is best done independently with input from the Environment Agency and possibly other regulators and NGOs, but their sole position should not be relied upon.
If you are concerned about your abstraction position. licence renewal or the possible impacts from this decision, contact Envireau Water now.